A National Council of Province (NCOP) member has raised concerns about the disregard for human dignity at a school in the Eastern Cape.
Democratic Alliance (DA) Eastern Cape Shadow MEC for Education Yusuf Cassim was on an oversight inspection at Lundini Primary School in the OR Tambo District recently.
The Eastern Cape is among a few regions struggling to eradicate pit toilets and inadequate sanitation facilities at schools.
Cassim said learners at the school were forced to relieve themselves outdoors, with the girls making use of a nearby tree and the boys being forced to use an open patch of grass, where the SGB chairperson informed him that they had recently discovered a black mamba.
He said the NCOP discovered Lundini Primary School only has six pit latrines, three for girls and three for boys.
“The lack of appropriate sanitation facilities and total disregard for human dignity by the Eastern Cape Department of Education has forced the youngest and most vulnerable learners in our province to use snake-infested bushes to relieve themselves. These facilities are used by both learners and teachers alike, but the latrine seats are too large for the youngest learners in Grade R and Grade 1 to use.”
Cassim said there are currently 1 598 schools in the province with inappropriate and unsafe sanitation, including pit latrines.
“Eradication of these death traps has been pitiful, only 33 schools were provided with sanitation facilities in the 2019/20 financial year, and just 18 schools were assisted in the 2020/21 financial year.”
“It is sickening to think that the Education Department has forfeited over R200 million of its Education Infrastructure Grant funding back to National Treasury due to its inability to spend the money while our most vulnerable children are forced into the bushes to relieve themselves,” Cassim said.
Cassim said he has submitted a detailed parliamentary question to Eastern Cape Education MEC, Fundile Gade, to provide the names of all primary schools in the province where their sanitation, including pit latrines, are of a size that is too large for grade R and 1 learners to utilise.